Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Anti Stock Transfer Campaigners Welcome Landmark Ruling!

The Defend Council Housing people have issued the following media release:

The Neath Port Talbot Defend Council Housing Campaign has welcomed today's ruling from the Freedom Of Information Commissioner that the Neath Port Talbot [council] was wrong to withhold vital information from the campaign which was trying to halt the transfer of thousands of council homes to NPT Homes Ltd.

According to Huw Pudner of the Defend Council Housing Campaign

' The legal ruling by the Information Commissioner has revealed serious shortcomings in the upper reaches of the Neath Port Talbot Council. Time and time again the Council delayed and prevaricated when it refused to provide the information that had been lawfully requested. Its illegal behaviour undoubtedly had a bearing on the result of the stock transfer ballot.The Council was warned that it was abusing the democratic process but chose to carry on regardless. It is now time for the Council to halt its discredited stock transfer plan'.

EXTRACTS BELOW FROM THE 2 PAGE LETTER AND 18 PAGE RULING FROM THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER DATED THE 17TH JAN 2011


'Dear Mr Pudner,
.....................Your complaint has been carefully considered and in this case the Commissioner has found in favour of yourself '
{from the letter }.

'THE DECISION'

point 61

'The Commissioner's decision is that the public authority did not deal with the request for information in accordance with the Act.

* It incorrectly applied section 40 [2] to withhold the information requested.

*It breached section 10 [1] for failing to provide the information following payment by the complainant of the requested fee.

* It breached section 17[1] for failing to issue a refusal notice within 20 working days of the request.

* It breached section 17 [1] [b] for failing to cite an exemption under Part 11 of the Act which it later relied on.

* When relying on section 12{1] of the Act ,it breached section 17 [5 ] for failing to issue a refusal notice within twenty working days from receipt of the request.

from page 12 of the ruling

STEPS REQUIRED
....
63 'The public authority must take the steps required by this notice within 35 days of the date of this Notice.'

FAILURE TO COMPLY
'Failure to comply with the steps described above may result in the Commissioner making written certification of this fact to the High Court pursuant to section 54 of the Act and may be dealt with as a contempt of court.'

OTHER MATTERS
'65 Although they do not form part of this Decision Notice the Commissioner wishes to highlight the following matters of concern:
66 The Commissioner note the Council declined to make a decision regarding this case at th internal review stage and recommended to the complainant that he should contact the Information Commissioner's Office.
67 The Commissioner notes that by failing to conduct a full internal review the Council breached the section 45 code of Practice.'

from page 13 of the ruling
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